Originally posted January 24, 2013
Proposed changes to the upcoming fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) will affect the criteria used to assess alcohol problems. One change would collapse the two diagnoses of alcohol abuse (AA) and alcohol dependence (AD) into a single diagnosis called alcohol use disorder (AUD). A second change would remove "legal problems," and a third would add a criterion of "craving." A study of the potential consequences of these changes has found they are unlikely to significantly change the prevalence of diagnoses.
Results will be published in the March 2013 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.
"Updating the DSM could be advantageous if changes are made based on improvements in our understanding of a disorder's etiology, and/or if changes improve the accuracy of the diagnosis," said Alexis C. Edwards, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine as well as corresponding author for the study. "It would probably be a little disappointing if no changes were ever made, because that might suggest that we haven't made much headway in understanding and accurately diagnosing psychiatric disorders, despite all our efforts."